Warrior review by Melissa Orcine - Cinema Paradiso
Two brothers slated to fight in a ring, no holds barred mixed martial arts, and a whole lot of angst and resentment – it must be the Gavin O’Connor-directed film ‘Warrior’.
In it, Australian Joel Edgerton is Brendan and Englishman Tom Hardy is Tommy, who play Irish-American working-class non-heroes and brothers, who suffer in life emotionally (they’re estranged with their alcoholic father Paddy, played convincingly by Nick Nolte), financially (Brendan has a family to feed and a mortgage to pay off), and physically (whereas Brendan fights on parking lots for extra cash, brother Tommy knocks heads to let off steam).
They are both dreamers although their dreams are way different. Think ‘Fighter’ with sibling rivalry and unconditional love and ‘The Wrestler’ with all the emotional and physical strain – only much better.
If there’s one thing ‘Warrior’ is not, it’s subtle. How could you when mixed martial arts pose nothing but sweaty men, muscles, and hard-core grappling that watching it already make you weak in the knees.
This is brutality as an art form and director Gavin O’Connor captures it with hardcore grace. The camera is unapologetic of the action going on – you will cringe and be at the edge of your seat. But what did you expect when brothers Brendan (Edgerton) and Tommy (Hardy) ultimately duke it out in a tournament dubbed as Sparta? The symbolism – whether intentional or not –
Biblical or mythological in aspect, can be a little heavy-handed. And yet it manages to highlight the immeasurable despair that its cast, surroundings, and situations emanate on-screen. It’s raw, sad, and hopeless but the Sparta tournament keeps everyone alive.
The most credible element of film is the perfect casting of actors Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, and Nick Nolte. As a fractured trio of father, sons, and brothers, they operate on a level of acting that is paramount to divert ‘Warrior’ from its campy premise. Had it not been for them, this would have been one of those ‘Rocky’ sequels that have become parodies of itself. Their anguish is real, painful, and unbelievably heartbreaking.